Cancer Research Classic: Wojcik is a season stronger and better

WHEELING — Paxson Wojcik knew exactly what he was getting into when he made a decision to enroll at La Lumiere.

If Wojcik was going to reach the highest level of basketball he could, making a sacrifice to leave his family, friends and home in South Carolina to attend a boarding school was going to be the route to take.

Every athlete wants to play immediately, but each also understands there’s a process. That’s especially true for Wojcik, who is the son of Wheeling native and current East Carolina University assistant coach Doug Wojcik.

“I had to pay my dues (last year),” Wojcik said. “Just like in any other program, you kind of have to wait your turn, but there’s a huge opportunity for me this year to take on a bigger role.”

It’s an opportunity that Wojcik, who owns three Division I scholarship offers, doesn’t plan to just let go by either.

“I know La Lu is the best place for me both as a student and as a basketball player,” Wojcik said. “I always knew I wanted to come back and finish out here.”

For the second straight year, Wojcik is able to show off some of his skills in front of several familiar faces with the Lakers taking part in this weekend’s 11th annual Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit University.

With Wojcik scoring 14 points and sharing game MVP honors, La Lumiere got past Imhotep, which is located in Philadelphia, by a 61-51 final in the opening game of the event Friday afternoon. La Lumiere will be back on the floor today at 3:10 against the nation’s number one team, Montverde.

“It feels great to be back,” Wojcik said. “Being familiar with the area and having some family here is always nice. This is a great event to play in and be a part of.”

Just a junior, Wojcik has seen a significant increase in minutes. La Lumiere, which won the national championship last winter, graduated nine seniors, many of whom are currently playing major college basketball.

Though he didn’t get the game action that maybe he had hoped for, Wojcik realized early on that there are ways to improve without being on the court during games. And being a great practice player and soaking up every thing he could were major ingredients in that recipe.

“I didn’t play too much during the games, but I knew I was going up against four and five-star recruits during practice, so I used that opportunity to better myself,” Wojcik said. “I just went to work each and every day to try to get better.”

En route to acquiring those offers, Wojcik took his improvements to the travel ball circuit last spring and summer. It paid dividends because he caught the eye of several coaches.

“I had a big summer playing AAU,” Wojcik said. “I picked up some looks from schools that I didn’t have before and I think it’s only going to continue to pick up.”

He admitted that he’s not leaning toward a commitment or favoring any one school over another at this point. However, he does plan to decide late this summer and sign his National Letter of Intent during the early signing period next fall.

“I have a couple of schools in mind, but nothing is set,” Wojcik said.

Wojcik’s biggest improvements didn’t come in his jump shot or his ability to handle the ball. It was adjusting to the speed and physicality of playing basketball at such a high level.

“Playing with these highly recruiting kids, they’re playing at a different pace, they’re stronger and bigger, so it took a little bit of time to adjust to that,” Wojcik said.

With several high academic schools seeking Wojcik’s services, maintaining his studies, while playing a national type of schedule that involves significant travel, can sometimes prove to be a challenge. But, again, it’s all part of the process.

“It’s tough, but you just have to manage your time and as you travel more and more, you get more used to it,” Wojcik said. “It’s hard, though.”